Copyright 2014 MillieAnne Lowe, Orange County, California
Stetson and Steele parted company outside the swinging doors of Lefty O’Doul’s. Steele strolled left toward Mason Street while Stetson had turned right toward Union Square, a place where he could disappear and not be known as a police officer. He had to decide what to do about Steele.
The sounds of fluttering voices and giggling caught his ear. He turned and saw a group of women standing in front of Andre’s, a fashionable boutique, eyeing Steele’s slim figure well revealed in soft blue jeans gliding down the street. He’s doing it again, even without effort, thought Stetson. Steele had dressed in a black turtleneck under his brown leather jacket, and thrown on a dark blue neck scarf. Instantly, he had the mysterious aura of an artist, or a model. Two women dressed in Chanel suits and carrying expensive handbags passed by in front of Stetson. He overhead one of them say, “Sylvia, imagine that handsome blond hunk posing naked. Oh, I could just faint!”
Stetson shook his head as if he could erase what he had just heard. He didn’t need any more confirmation that Steele’s enormous appetite for women put him closer to being caught. The man’s looks alone acted like a magnet for women’s attention. Stetson crossed Powell Street along with the crowd of shoppers. The street noise of cars honking, people chattering, and the flapping of pigeons across the grounds, mixed with Jamaican tune played by the corner street musicians banging away at overturned wash basins and cooking pots. This fabric of noise was typical of downtown San Francisco. When he reached the tall statue of Victoria, the goddess of victory, a commemoration of the victory of George Dewey in 1898 at Manila Bay, Stetson had his mind made up. After the many disagreements he had with Steele in the past, and recent unsuccessful attempts to created communications with Jeanne and Krista who worked together in the teletype room of E. I. DuPont’s Western Headquarters, Stetson had lost his patience. Steele’s non-productive attempts were the results of his distraction of hunting and the feeding his desires to kill young blonde girls. Stetson knew he had to get rid of Steele. Permanently.
Since his demotion on the police force, he had no clout with his cohorts, nor did he have anyone he could trust. He had to do this job himself. He remembered that he still hadn’t talked with any of the guys he hired to do the job on Haley’s apartment, but at the moment, he had to let those details go and rely on those thugs to keep their mouths shut. He had much bigger problems to resolve.
For one, he had to get rid of Steele. The serial killer’s death would remove the high-risk situation. His other predicament involved the rich and powerful client nicknamed, Portico. Portico had hired Stetson to carry out a plan to destroy a major portion of the Port of San Francisco using some specific guidelines. When Stetson felt comfortable enough to ask, “Why?” his client replied, “You don’t need to know. I am paying you well to get the information and to set up the job.” At that point, a bodyguard handed over a gym bag packed with $250,000, and guiding Stetson by the arm escorted him out of the penthouse of the Mark Hopkins Hotel. Within ten minutes Stetson saw his client leave the hotel in a dark and long limousine.
Stetson needed someone highly skilled to meet his needs for this job, and Steele, a former demolition expert for the Navy came highly recommended by his peers.
Upon hearing Steele’s idea of how he could easily obtain the confidential details of the shipping orders without a break-in, Stetson hired Steele and paid him with half the amount he received, and promised twice as much to come upon completion of the job.
But now, this man, whose skills as a demolition expert made him an asset had become a detriment – a serial killer who in just weeks, had murdered seven people. And as Steele told him this afternoon, the lives of four of those seven people taken before noon today. Two of which were young little girls. The terror Steele instilled in the neighborhood and around the city also created groups of angry men who were ready to do harm to the serial killer without hesitation. They were tired of waiting for police efforts to protect their loved ones and themselves. He and Steele had witnessed the beginning of small mob by men who were eager to be vigilantes. Though Steele enjoyed the notoriety, Stetson did not. He had to be rid of Steele, and he had to do it tonight.
Through crowds of shoppers, tourists, and pigeons pecking the ground for breadcrumbs, it had only taken a stroll around Union Square two times. Stetson made his decision and knew exactly how he would carry out his plan.
After a brief discussion of business, and treating Steele to a big dinner, and several rounds of drinks at the Buena Vista Café with some girl-based jokes thrown in, he planned to entice Steele to join him on a cable car ride back to their neighborhood on Nob Hill. Emphasizing how grand it would feel to see the sparkling lights of the city below Lombard Street where the cable car always stopped, and what a thrilling experience it was to stand underneath the star filled night sky and look out at the Bay Bridge that would be all lit up.
At the boarding point where people waited for the grip man to drive the cable car onto the revolving turntable, he planned to stand close to Steele and deliver a bullet that would stop the murderous heart.
Stetson carefully reviewed the details of his surroundings for that moment. At the end of the line, the front windows of the Buena Vista Cafe looked out at the spot where the conductor and cable engineers pushed the cable car around to go back up Hyde Street. The warmth from inside the restaurant in contrast to the chilly fog would create steamy windows, making it hard for anyone to see what was happening outside. Besides that, there were only a couple of lampposts in that area. The turntable at night would be the perfect setting for Steele’s demise, thought Stetson. Various sources of noise would be the helpful cover for his crime. People often called out to family members, “Over here! We have seats over here!” Everyone would be busy clamoring aboard for a seat for the long ride up and down the hills back to the core of the city. In addition to the rattling of the cable car driven onto the round wooden platform, the rumbling of cables beneath the silver rails would hide any noise of a struggle, or the gunshot.
By the time the gripman and conductor discovered Steele’s body on the ground in the darkness, all the passengers would be screaming in fear. Stetson smiled to himself as he thought of how the leather jacket, dark turtleneck shirt and navy blue neck scarf Steele loved to wear, would conveniently hide the blood. Stetson visualized himself walking along in the dark with others who were heading toward the neon lights advertising great seafood at Fisherman’s Wharf.
Releasing a deep sigh, Stetson’s body relaxed. His hands were no longer held in a fist, and his shoulder muscles were not tensed. He had a firm plan now.
He squeezed through the crowd surrounding the swaying street musicians and hopped on the outside of the Hyde-Powell Street cable car. At the end of the line, he would be ready to meet with Steele. His spirit was up, and he felt surges of energy that made him feel he could run on a track and jump hurtles, even with the two guns he packed on his body. He discreetly pressed his bent elbow against his side. Underneath his loose windbreaker a Smith & Wesson semi-automatic 1911 .45 caliber sat neatly in his shoulder holster. And although uncomfortable at times, he wore an S&W J Frame Colt 1903 .25 acp in his right ankle holster. Uncomfortable or not, that little baby had saved his life through many close calls. “How convenient my two best friends are with me today,” he said aloud. He trusted the noise surrounding him to cover what he said. The Jamaican music alone would prevent anyone from hearing him clearly. Just as no one will hear the killing gunshot by the turntable tonight.
Copyright 2014 MillieAnne Lowe Orange County, California